Who’s Responsible?: Spider-Gwen #4
Jason Latour (Scripter), Robbi Rodriguez (Penciller)
Rico Renzi (Colourist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
Robbi Rodriguez (Cover Artist)
Spider-Gwen #4 is probably my favorite issue of the series yet.
There’s a lot less action in this issue. There’s no Vulture. No Frank Castle. No running from the cops. The conflict in this issue is all Gwen’s.
It opens with Spider-Woman stopping two kids from vandalizing a billboard with her face and the message “who’s responsible?” beside it. But it doesn’t go quite like she was expecting. Instead of teaching the kids a lesson, or scaring some sense into them, it’s actually the kids that do the lecturing. To start with they point out her own double standard (she vandalized the city herself back in issue #1). And furthermore they don’t trust her – they think she’s a sellout and working with the police. She’s shocked by the accusations, especially considering the police are currently hunting her.
“I don’t like the answer they’re giving. So I ask tougher questions,” the boy tells her. Whether she’s a sellout or not makes no difference to these kids. Her image is just a metaphor for something bigger. They feel a responsibility for the people around them. A responsibility to get answers and improve their everyday situation.
All of which sets off Gwen’s self-reflection. Much of her inner turmoil up to this point has been focused on feeling guilty and inferior. But meeting these kids gives her an opportunity to switch her focus. Guilt and feelings of inferiority are inevitable. They’re human. At the end of the day the question is – what is she actually responsible for? And when responsibility starts to show up in a Spider book, Uncle Ben can’t be far behind.
Back in plainclothes, Gwen goes to see her dad, and inevitably runs into Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Confronted with the very people she’s been trying to avoid, she’s finally talks to May about Peter’s death and Spider-Woman. But it goes much differently than she expected. May isn’t convinced that Spider-Woman is to blame for what happened. She has been following the newspaper articles and it’s given her the time and perspective she needed, and she thinks Spider-Woman’s actions may not be evidence of her guilt but of her trying to make up for something/set things right.
Since Gwen is finally starting to process everything that’s happened to her, instead of just running from it. She can take the first steps back to the things she was running from – Ben and May, and memories of Peter, as well as the Mary Janes. She may not be back permanently but she’s finally starting to reach out to those around her, which is a good start.
With this issue, Gwen starts to deal with the things she’s been grappling with since the beginning of the series. Gwen is more than just a girl running around in an amazing costume. Amongst the jokes and the brilliant art, we’re starting to see real character growth, as Gwen struggles with self-doubt, guilt, and most of all responsibility to her friends, to Peter, to the city.